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Combining its historic British influence with Vancouver Island’s First Nation roots, Victoria is a thoroughly modern city entirely its own. Visitors will delight in exploring the flourishing food scene concentrated in the pedestrian-friendly downtown. Brunch is especially big in Victoria, and worth standing in line for as the locals do most weekends. Happy hour is practically its own event, with a world-renowned craft cocktail scene. But Victorians know how to work up an appetite as well, taking advantage of their proximity to dozens of hiking and mountain biking trails, or kayaking in the Strait of San Juan de Fuca.
Step back in time with a visit to the Royal BC Museum, dedicated to the history of British Columbia. Most notable is Woolly, the full-scale model of an ice age woolly mammoth, and the centerpiece of the Natural History Gallery.
Built in 1860, the restored lighthouse played a crucial role in monitoring some of the world’s most dangerous waters, the so-called “Graveyard of the Pacific.
Venture out of the city for a wine tasting in Cowichan Valley, just 45 minutes from Victoria. This mild, fertile valley is known for great Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, and Ortega varietals.
Victoria is known as the England of North America, so formal tea is a must during your visit. Settle in to the majestic Lobby Lounge at the Empress for tea and three tiers of gourmet finger sandwiches and pastries.
Get oriented with a visit to the top of Mount Tolmie. Take in the 360-degree views of Victoria, out to San Juan Island, and across the water to the Olympic Mountains.
A great choice for families, the Bug Zoo is home to all sorts of crawling creatures, from glow-in-the-dark scorpions to furry tarantulas. The enthusiastic staff will even let you hold one for the perfect Instagram shot.
The center of Victoria is the picturesque Inner Harbour. Colorful houseboats, pedestrian streets, shops, and cafes stud the waterfront, from which you can see the stately British Columbia Parliament Building.
Victoria is the cycling capital of Canada. While downtown is immensely walkable, biking allows you to take in more of Vancouver Island’s breezy waterfront, with plenty of opportunities to stop for fish and chips.
Start your vacation before you even get to Victoria by taking a seaplane from Seattle’s Lake Union. You’ll fly over Puget Sound and Whidbey Island before landing in Victoria’s Inner Harbour, just steps from the Fairmont Empress.
Victoria is renowned for the pods of orcas, gray, and humpback whales that call its waters home. May through October is the best time of year to spot these marine mammals, but it’s possible to see them year-round.
Victoria’s climate is one of the mildest in Canada, fostering the lush plants and flowers that bloom almost all year long. Winters are cool and rainy, in the 40s and 50s, with the very rare appearance of snow. Long summer days are in the 60s and 70s, with little to no rain and lots of sunshine, ideal for getting outside to explore all this city has to offer.